This is a bricklayer’s accident report that was printed in the newsletter of the English equivalent of the Workers’ Compensation Board.
I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put “Poor Planning” as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.
Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 lbs of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 165 lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.
At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.
Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.
I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope. And I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back onto me.
6 thoughts on “April Fool’s Day: An Accident Report”
The original of this story – called The Bricklayer’s Lament – was written by a guy called Gerard Hoffnung. It was written in the form of a letter by a bricklayer to an employer requesting sick leave. I read it in the School Mathematics Project series for 16-19 year olds, published by Cambridge University. (ISBN 0-521-38845-7) It is given there in the context of a problem to find a mathematical model for the motion of the bricklayer and the barrel. The Assignments were:
1. Find the time taken for a 100 gram mass to hit the floor when it is released 60 cm above the ground.
2. How long does it take when it is released 70 cm above the floor.
3. Repeat for other distances
4. Make a table or a graph
5. Find a general rule and test it.
6. where can you go from here
Cool Sadru, I like anecdotes like this. It just enhances the story. I heard it about 20 years ago, I enjoyed it very much, and it still brings me a smile, even now when I know what’s coming. It is a story that shows the folly and “bizarre” things that can happen to human beings.
Thank you for our smiles today . . .trusting that this IS just a story. !
Deb, I hope it is just a funny story, but when I read it a couple of times I could see it happening. I reckon that it could have happened. IDK.
Wow! This is a true story?!?! Poor guy!!
I wondered about it too. The narration of the story doesn’t give it away at all. And the sequence of it is plausable. IDK.
Comments are closed.